AWARE Foundation among organizations getting donations to help support groups

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Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 2:27 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/Gabby Petito Foundation Release) - The Gabby Petito Foundation, started by the family of Gabby Petito, is working to support organizations that assist families in locating missing persons, and to provide support to organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence.

Petito was found dead in Wyoming over the summer after a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Florida in October.

The Petito Foundation reports thousands of people have reached out to it to share their stories, seek support and connect with fellow survivors, and members of the Petito family want to “turn their personal tragedy into positive change” by supporting those on the front lines.

“We want to honor Gabby’s memory and life by ensuring that no one ever has to experience what she did. We want survivors to know that they aren’t alone and that there are amazing organizations ready to help,” said Nichole Schmidt, Gabby Petito Foundation co-founder and Gabby’s mother.

The foundation, which has received contributions from people around the world, is giving three donations this month to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline), SafeSpace and the Virginia-based The AWARE Foundation.

“These three organizations are doing incredible work on the front lines of missing persons and responding to those impacted by abuse,” said Joe Petito, Gabby Petito Foundation co-founder and Gabby’s father. “Our foundation is honored to present them with this support.

The AWARE Foundation assists families of missing persons to raise awareness by distributing flyers, securing billboards, working with media and holding events. “Gabby’s family decided to make a difference. They could have grieved in silence, and everyone would have understood, but instead they chose to help other families and survivors through the Gabby Petito Foundation,” said Kenny Jarels of AWARE.

AWARE worked with the Petito family during the search for Gabby and was named an “Everyday Hero” by the Investigation Discovery Network in 2020.

If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship abuse in any form, help is available via The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides free, confidential support 24/7/365. Text START to 88788, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or chat online at You are not alone.

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